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Knowledge is half the battle. Most people don't know what questions to ask of web designers and application programmers. Often times people don't understand the process, and even more often designers won't bother to explain how it works. I feel a basic understanding of how sites are built is easy to impart. This knowledge can assist in finding the best model and options suited to your goals. After some simple discussion, you'll be able to avoid poor planning that can result in costly overhauls down the road. At the very least you'll feel more confident while interviewing other designers.
Always ask about the "what if's" for the future.
How hard would it be to change or add features? Mistakes in the initial planning can be costly down the line. Many web projects start small and without formal planning. Considering a 5-10 year plan while building even the smallest site can be important. A year down the line, success may require expanded functionality or other changes.
Can the fonts for text be changed in one place to affect the entire site? If you want to change from a top menu bar to a side menu bar, can this be done without touching every file? Will it look the same everywhere? Insist on documenting a project.
Many designers will simply hand over a web site with no information on how they built it or how it works. Without formal documentation from the original blueprint, the web developer will have to deconstruct the old code—a time consuming and expensive procedure. Even once he or she has deconstructed some of the old code, changes are risky and often break web programs.
Data management and organization can make or break you.
Consider the integrity of your data. If you sell hundreds of products or post hundreds of content pages, chances are you'll be keeping your information in a database. What happens if you can not manage the data effectively? What data is old? Who last reviewed it for integrity? How often should data be checked?
Know when, where and what it is. If there is a program to track and manage your data correctly, you'll be much better off. Otherwise your data can become outdated and incorrect. If data is put in by different people, it may even go into the wrong place. After they leave the data will be lost.
Avoid data duplication. If you have common copy that you would like to display in multiple places, it is a good idea to have that information pulled from one source. Otherwise, as changes are made to the text or images, the multiple entries must all be changed. This is difficult and prone to error.
Allow for future potential. Can you manipulate everything that goes in and comes out of your database by changing code in one spot? Do you want to remove HTML tags? Do you want to put in all in caps? Do you want to count how many letters there are in the average article a user reads? Without a centralized, single function you will spend big money to go back and add this potential.
Some of the advice floating around regarding linking for your site can be pretty confusing, especially when it comes to reciprocal linking. Is it something you have to do? Can your site succeed without reciprocal links? Will you be penalized for reciprocal linking? There are so many conflicting theories. Let's try to clear the subject up a little. Link Popularity The founders of Google worked off a premise that has been active in academic papers for years: citation authority. They found that the more academic papers cited another's work, the more likely that cited work was to be an authority on the subject. Similarly, when a lot of sites link to one site, it's likely that site is an authority for the topic. The "topic" is whatever those links say it is. If 25 sites link to another site with the term "oak shelving," it's likely that page is an important page for oak shelving.
Manipulation of Links
It didn't take long for people who wanted to rank well for certain terms to figure out that they needed a lot of links with their chosen keyword phrases to improve their rankings in the search engines. Many schemes were born, including mini-sites, site networks, link farms, and reciprocal linking.
At the most basic level, reciprocal links are links you trade with other sites (you add their link, they add yours) in order to build link popularity. There are online services, group exchanges, and software available to help you link up with more like-minded webmasters, fast. As a result, many sites have grown sizeable directories on topics that have nothing to do with their area of expertise, simply because those other sites were willing to trade links with them. Does this work? At the moment, it does seem to work. The engines (except for Teoma, which analyzes link communities) tend to count a link as a link, regardless of the subject matter of the originating site. Will it continue to work? Who knows? As the engines look for more ways to determine which sites are truly expert and which ones are simply manipulating their way to the top, link relevance is sure to come into play. Some say it's already starting to affect rankings.
The power of article marketing is that once the articles are in circulation, and on hundreds... or even thousands of websites, they can work for you forever. I still get traffïc to some of my websites from articles I wrote in 1998!
Many online marketers now use articles to market their websites, but they don't do it very effectively. Articles have to be written, and deployed, in a way that they both gain you advantages in the search engines and that they convert readers into customers, subscribers, clients, and fans. That means your articles need SOLID content.
In writing articles (or having them ghost written) you must always remember that people surf the Internet looking for information and solutions to their problems. Your articles must actually provide this information or help them to actually solve their problems. Distribute articles that accomplish this, and you'll develop an endless stream of raving fans, all storming your website for more of YOU.
Writing articles is relatively easy. If you don't know how to write articles though, I recommend that you take advantage of the training available at a site called Content Propulsion Lab. Content Propulsion Lab teaches you not only how to use articles to grow your business, but also how to use multi-media content (such as MP3's and online video). You're shown how to deploy multi-media content in a way that causes the search engines to gobble it up.
I mentioned the multi-media content because, while articles work beautifully, website audio and video is growing at an amazing pace. You need to offer your audience information in the formats that they prefer consuming it in. More and more, this format is becoming audio and video. These formats allow your audience to connect with you on a much deeper level since they see or hear a live person. Connecting with your audience on a deeper level means MORE salës.
How can a press release help with building your link popularity? Most of the frëe press release services are text-based which means you will not be able to add any HTML tags and so you can't add any keyword-optimized links into the press release. However others like the Free Press Release Center (FPRC) allow you to also supply some keywords for that press release. When that page is viewed by someone, including the search engines, the keywords will be used to create links within your press release back to your website.
There is a one-way link to your website
The link uses the anchor text of your choice
The link is within a natural context of the press release.
Traditionally, a press release is short-lived, it has a limited amount of time to make an impact on the media before it becomes old news and is replaced by fresh press releases. Some services like FPRC allow you to buy a cheap upgrade, which means your press release will remain permanently in their system. This means that your "in context" links with the anchor text of your choice remain permanently for search engines to find and so help improve your rankings.
When preparing your press release you should optimize it for the keywords which are important for your site, product or company. This means that when someone searches for information in your industry, your press release will be seen as relevant by the search engine.
e all know that Google is the dominant search engine, and controls a large percentage of online advertising. But many of us -- even regular Google users -- are not aware of some of Google's other services. Most of them are presented as new ways of listing and categorizing the universe.
However, consistent with Google's new status as a profit-first public corporation, what lies at the root of most of Google's expanding ventures is the need to become less dependent on context-based advertising revenue. In other words, the people at Google are desperately looking for new ways of making money.
Google's product search and comparison tool called Froogle, was launched in December 2002. It was developed in an attempt to cash in on the obvious market for online shopping that major sites like eBay and Amazon had so successfully exploited.
Unlike alternatives like eBay, Froogle lists products for frëe, and it has no integrated purchase capability. You just look for products by product name or description and are presented with a list of products with links to sites where they are available.
Product information gets into Froogle in one of two ways, according to the Froogle instructions. It can be submitted electronically by merchants and will then be included in the database. Second, in the course of spidering the Web, Google's spidering software "automatically identifies webpages that offer products for sale". These are then included in the Froogle database as well.
What Google wants is to make Froogle a product search tool of choice, and open up various monetization opportunities. The obvious ones are embedded advertising and paid listings, but others include direct salës possibilities on the eBay model.
After more than three years Froogle is still called a "beta" suggesting that Google still has no definite plans for it. The latest development was to add "local shopping" information to the listings giving Froogle potential to become an online yellow pages.
Everybody agrees that local search is going to be very big in the next couple of years. Say you're looking for a place to buy a digital camera in a particular city. Just do a search for "digital camera in MyTown", and Google Local will give you a detailed street map of the area along with stores that carry the product, and locations indicated on the map.
Since products are indexed by keyword, you can search for virtually anything, rather than being restricted to the categories pre-defined by a service like the yellow pages.
Also unlike the yellow pages, Google Local includes all stores they have a listing for, not just paying advertisers. Local gives you a map with locations, plus listings with links direct to the stores. The potential for this resource seems awesome.
Plus Google Local has integrated a very slick map utility that arguably looks better (simpler) and in some ways, works faster than other services such as MapQuest. For instance, you can search for a relatively obscure place like Carlyle, Saskatchewan or Brora, Scotland and you are taken to a detailed street map for the entire region. If you are looking for a broader overview of the area, you can just grab the map and scroll along a highway or the coast without having to clïck on navigation arrows as you do with MapQuest.
Google has also integrated its satellite imaging service into Local. If you are looking at a specific map and would rather see a satellite image of the area, just clïck on "satellite". Or if you would like to see the satellite image with a map overlay, you can see that too, by clicking on "hybrid".